Waterloo's Willis scores 1,000th point as Vikings get past pesky Bombers

By COLIN HARRIS | staff writer Published:

Saturday night ultimately belonged to Jamie Willis and the Waterloo Vikings -- but the Windham Bombers sure made things interesting.

Willis became the sixth player in school history to score more than 1,000 points for her career as the Vikings held on down the stretch for a 48-45 Portage Trail Conference County Division victory.

A senior four-year letterwinner, Willis knocked down a 3-pointer at the 3:52 mark of the second quarter to eclipse the career mark.

Officials stopped the game and Willis was awarded the game ball before running into the crowd to hug her parents and supporters.

"One of the greatest memories of my coaching career is being on the sidelines as Jamie scored her 1,000th career point," Waterloo coach Dave Hamilton said. "Jamie deserves it -- she's the hardest-working basketball player that I've ever coached."

As the clock expired on the first half, Waterloo (1-2, 1-1 PTC County) looked to coast to an easy victory as it dominated the visiting Bombers, 24-13.

Waterloo came out in the third quarter with a pair of buckets from Laurin Wareham and Michaela Wise to go up 28-13, but the quarter belonged to Windham.

Sophomore forward Dari Heller scored seven of her 12 points in the third and sophomore guard Jessica Isler added four as Windham (1-4, 0-2) outscored Waterloo, 18-14 to cut into the Vikings' lead.

Turnovers hurt Waterloo during the second half as the Vikings coughed up the ball eight times over the final two periods.

"Our girls like to get our and run and sometimes they don't know how to slow themselves down," Hamilton said. "They need to work on knowing when to just pull the ball out and slow things down."

Those mistakes helped Windham crawl back into the game during the fourth as the Bombers again held a scoring edge -- 14-10 in the fourth -- and made it an exciting final minute of play.

Willis knocked down a bucket to put Waterloo up 47-42 with around 1:30 to play, but three points off foul shots by Heller and freshman Brittany Knight cut the Vikings' lead to 47-45 with 21.2 seconds remaining.

On the following possession, Waterloo's Blair Weaver was sent to the line and went 1-for-2 to put the Vikings up 48-45 and set up one final possession for the Bombers.

After working the ball down the court, Knight found herself with the ball at the top of the key. The freshman got off a clean shot, but the ball banged off the rim as time expired.

Despite the loss, Heller and Knight had good outings for Windham. Heller finished with 12 points to go along with 17 rebounds, while Knight finished with 11 points and six boards. Isler knocked down five 3-pointers to finish with a game-high 18 points to lead Windham.

Bombers coach Gregg Isler said the loss was difficult, but there were positives to take away for his young team.

"I think we took a big step forward tonight," Isler said. "We gave up a lot of points in the paint because we're not that big, but that's going to happen to us this year.

"But we really came out in the second half and played a lot more like we should be playing."

Willis led the Vikings in scoring on her big evening, pouring in 15 points -- including a pair of 3-pointers. Senior forward Megan Forney finished with 14 points to go along with six rebounds.

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